Monday, December 31, 2007

Virtual Hudson

My big-city friend is off to Hudson, New York for the new year and told me to check 1st dibs to see if there was anything I might want him to check on while he's there. Darling, David; he's always so thoughtful. Might be chilly, just let me get my gloves. Here we go.

Gris. These painted regency dining chairs would be just the thing to bring a little life the dining room. I adore good, brown wood tables with painted chairs. And twelve - quite a find.

Next to Balsamo for the 1920's fire wood basket.

And, as luck would have it, a perfect bedside table.

It is chilly, let's stop for coffee. Ok, to Gottlieb Gallery. Oh, my. The dining room is shaping right up. I've been looking for a pair of something great in look but not in stature to flank the bay. These lacquered steel cabinets are perfection.

I have also been on the hunt for a pair of obelisks and am loving the Egyptian imagery on these.

Oh, heavens, a star sighting. There's Rock. He always looks fabulous, doesn't he?

Benjamin Wilson has a lovely Chippendale chest, and I will be needing something a little jazzier to go under the new Irish Georgian mirror for the front hall. It may be a tad too deep. I wish I had my tape.

Another wonderful chest at Ad Lib. This one might be better for the bedroom.

Can't forget the outside. Zinc lidded urns. Swoon.

Historic Materialism (I wish I'd thought of that) has a wonderful pair of masonic temple columns. Fabulous, and a conversation starter. I'm not sure I have the right spot. Keeping these in mind. Oh, heavens, my feet are killing me. I should never have worn these boots. Will I ever learn?

Arenskjold has this amazing, amazing ivory sewing box. It would fit in the suitcase. No shipping. That would be handy.

Goodness. There's so much more to see, but I'm completely beat and must get these shoes off. I think we all need a drink. Oh, I do hope he asks me again next year. That was so much fun.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Darling, You Shouldn't Have!

You might remember that I treated myself to a little armillary sphere right before the holidays. I blanched at the self-indulgence and told Mr. Blandings in a very firm tone, that I should receive nothing else for Christmas. "The sphere was my present," I proclaimed. "Nothing else."

So whether it was from devotion, or fear that this was some sort of test, he ignored my request and picked up this sensational pair of marble compotes from Christopher Filley's. For me.

Well. They can't be returned, naturally, that would be so unkind to Christopher, and he is always so good to me. I just don't know how he knew just the thing. He couldn't possibly have thought I was hinting when I told him it was such a toss up when I was there - sphere or compotes. Could he? I know he didn't think I meant for him to get them just because I was fretting - once or twice - that they might be sold during the season as they are just the thing anyone with impeccable taste might fancy. Did he?
He was doubly rewarded; once under the mistletoe by me, and, earlier, by Christopher and Rich who called him "Mr. Blandings" while he stood helpless and lost in a place he can't quite understand. "Mr. Blandings." He just loves that.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays from the Dream House

I've been saving this image from Patricia van Essche for something really special. Seems the perfect thing to wish you and your family a joyful end to 2007 and hopeful beginning to 2008.

Mrs. Blandings

First, I'll tell you - he's fine.

So sorry about the delay yesterday. As we were rocking through our first day of Christmas break, I got a call from my friend who was hosting the eldest Blandings boy for a sleep-over. Apparently, her son and mine had found the only patch of snow left in Kansas City and decided to go sledding. Only, it was more ice than snow. It's a small park close to their home with stately architectural columns at the bottom of a small hill so it's known as Vernona Columns. People take their wedding pictures there. It's lovely. Unless you hit it with your head. Or you pull up to find an ambulance and a fire truck and a handful of EMTs strapping your son to a board and putting a collar around his neck. His nose was bleeding a bit and he was vomiting. Basically in and out of consciousness, he was moaning and crying, but not responding to verbal commands. Anne Lamott, in one of her books, said the majority of prayers are either, "Please, please, please." or "Thank you, thank you, thank you." So I started with "Please, please, please."

In the ambulance, the wonderful men who were helping us both kept asking him to open his eyes. But he wouldn't. So they'd press on his chest, which would make him cry out in pain, but open his eyes. I sat there wanting to tell them to stop and wanting to beg them to do it again so I could see that he was still in there. The staff at Children's Mercy Hospital is amazing, which I knew already. They have been steady and caring and direct the entire time we have been here. Through the scans and the evaluation. And the neurosurgeon. I truly hope I never need to talk to a neurosurgeon again unless it's at a cocktail party.

But he's fine. A concussion. A bone chip right over his right eye. No surgery. No bleeding. Nothing tragic. So the tears that would not stop coming last night were for all the things that did not happen. He's sore, but fine. A little grouchy today, but fine. He should definitely be home for Christmas. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Friday, December 21, 2007

OK, Pencils Down

Well done. I think Joni at Cote de Texas was the first one to guess correctly, but Linda was close behind.

Today's mystery designers are William Diamond and Anthony Baratta.

Now you will certainly recognize the beginnings of the bold use of color and traditional patterns. Only the gingham in the kitchen hints at the steroidian scale to come.

This was very fun, for me at least, we will definitely do this again.

Class, It's Friday, Pop Quiz

Trolling through the files of the vintage magazines is easy inspiration. The thing is, not everything is noteworthy, exactly, but some of it is interesting because it is the work of a very prominent designer. Ten years ago. So, today, I'm offering the first of what will be occasional "Name That Designer" quiz.

I will promise a couple of things. 1) I won't exclude images because they might be an obvious hint, and, 2) I will credit the first person who identifies the designer on line and provide an example of current work.

This story is fun as its colors lend themselves so much to the season. The layout appeared in House and Garden in December of 1987.

The homeowner (and I'm not being coy here, she wasn't identified) was having trouble describing what she wanted, "As close as I could come, was the kind of a house Myrna Loy and William Powell lived in, in a movie I couldn't name - not Mr. Blandings."

And if you are afraid I'm taking offense, I am not, as this is a very ill-informed comment. Loy and Grant were our Mr. and Mrs. Blandings. Loy and William Powell starred in four "Thin Man" movies as charming and witty detectives, whose homes were mostly very modern and sleek. Definitely worth watching. But nothing to do with this style of house.

This image should tip my hand. What do you win? The same thing my 11-year-old son gets when he does well on a test - the satisfaction of a job well-done. Begin.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Always the Last Place You Look

So, I couldn't let it go. I had not conjured that mirror out of thin air. I'm not that good, by far. Back to the library. American Designers' Houses? No. Vicente Wolf? No. Rooms to Inspire? Nina Campbell's Decorating Secrets? Sills Huniford's Dwellings? No, no and no. Grrr...

But here and there there were a few things that were almost. On Courtney's advice, I did check Mecox Gardens. They had some pretty mirrors, but not quite right. 1st dibs had this.

OK, amazing, I admit. But, well, I don't need a pair and would never consider splitting them up. Also, "contact dealer" on the price, which would likely mean refinancing my house and I don't think Mr. Blandings would understand.

This is close. Keith Irvine from House and Garden, Book of Style.

I was really thinking a bit more graphic and, not to be picky, but the "dots" here I think are actually pieces of mirror, which, while it's lovely, is, well, no.

I do like this one. It's not quite big enough (I do understand I'm not actually shopping, just in case you were starting to worry.) but this is what I had in mind. Brackets on either side, with maybe some of that Haytown Pottery from one of my first posts.

Sorry, I got a bit distracted, this is Charlotte Moss's entry from her book, A Passion for Detail.

Is this it? Could this be it? I just didn't remember it horizontal and I didn't remember gilding. But I can't find the darn thing so maybe I'm a nut-job anyway.

But this one at least could be taken to show the dealers or the framer. It's very close, still, a smidge more gilt than desired. (Do you feel like Barbara Streisand in "What's Up Doc? peaking from behind the plant?) Jackye Lantham's dining room from Southern Accents, Color. The walls are upholstered in linen velvet.

"Oh, sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you!" You should be so glad you can't hear me sing. Michael Smith. Naturally. This mirror. This image, forever seared into my brain.

Am I a knucklehead? Not one of the books mention the mirror. At all. Not even a passing, "flanking the mirror..." A nobody. Or perhaps it's such a common thing I should know what it is. (She doesn't even know what a ahem is. I'm never reading this again. Poser.)

If that is the case, before you click away, please do tell me if it has a name, provenance, anything. I will feel truly silly carrying around Smith's Elements of Style where ever I go. (She's the one, you know, who always has that book.)
Always an amazing resource, House of Beauty and Culture stopped by to help me out. These are Georgian and Irish. The "dots" are glass or crystal. The antiques are somewhat rare. And probably dear. I'm so grateful for our merry little band.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mirror, Mirror

I have a picture of a mirror in my head. Not a non-existent mirror that I have dreamed up, although I do have a problem with that kind of thing as well. No, a real image of a mirror from one of the many design books in my office. I think.

I was sure it was from Mariette Himes Gomez's "Rooms." So, I whisked it under my arm on the way out the door this morning.

Alas, it was not there. But I noticed, as I was flipping frantically, then thumbing slowly, that Gomez has a way with mirrors and maybe that was why I thought it had to be there.

Most of the mirrors she chooses are almost works of art. While her rooms are usually crisp and subtle, her mirrors have a lot of interest.

I think she is especially strong with furniture placement, but noticed today that she has a great eye for placing mirrors and art as well.

She often uses pairs, which always seems just right. This little vignette above would be pretty easy to replicate on almost any budget. And so charming.

The chinoiserie mirror is terrific, but especially so as it is placed in this pristine environment. All that white makes it pop.

I noticed the smaller mirror on larger mirror a couple of times. The arrangement above is genius as it is reflecting the light from the window which makes the whole room sunny and warm. Also, who doesn't want a vanity mirror? Instant glamour.

So, like running into a good friend, it was fun to see Mariette again. Now I have to go home and see if I remembered something real or not. Large, oval, black with white "dots," possibly mother-of-pearl or ivory inlay? Does she sound familiar? Let me know. Wild goose chases welcome; something good is always bound to turn up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's Crystal Clear

House and Garden, September, 2007.

I'm sending out a bit of a trend alert. I somewhat ignored all the body parts, mostly hands, that I was spying this summer because I thought they were, well, contrived. But this trend has piqued my curiosity as it's raised my eyebrow.

You see, I really like Rock Crystal. A lot. And I know it's not anything new, but it's popping up in so many lay-outs lately. I'm worried about Rock. I'm afraid he might become a cliche. Like the Coral sisters, Red and White.

Bazaar, Fall 2007 supplement. Styled by Douglas Little.
I'm wondering if it's the convergence of two forces. Could it be possible that Rock is the off-spring of Ms. Wearstler, wee of frame but mighty of influence and exposure, and Mr. Duquette, a big personality in his own right, who is enjoying a bit of a resurgence?

One of the best parts of the substance is that it is so appealing in so many forms. Big, chunky rocks, sleek obelisks, or as utilitarian object, like the lamp below.

House Beautiful, January 2008. Design by David Mitchell.
Another thing about Rock, he can go anywhere. Dress him up and put in him silver and he is urban and urbane. Settle him into a rustic beach house or cabin and he takes on an easy-going organic air.

He's not the jealous type, either. He can hang with other trends and not feel threatened, be it antlers,

House and Garden.

or blanc de chine,

or suzanis. He's happy to share the spotlight. He might be the George Clooney of trends.

Elle Decor, November 2007. Design by Alex Papchristidis.
I should caution you about one thing, though.

As lovely as he is, as he gains notoriety, his price will go up. Way up.
Domino, December/January 2008.
When I was in Cascade, Colorado this summer, at the foot of the hill that has been Mr. Blandings's family's vacation home for five generations, there is a little spot called The Rock Shop. No, I'm not kidding. Anyway, I've been going to this little retreat for fifteen years, give or take. Every year I say, "Let's go to the Rock Shop." And every year Mr. Blandings says, "My grandmother used to call that the Gyp Shop." Every year.

But this year, in a driving rain, I gave each boy five dollars and down the hill we went. I hate to say it, but sometimes Mr. Blandings doesn't know what is good. Baskets of beads, arrowheads, geodes. All in all, a wonderful spot. But the point is, in the back room (Where you have to be at least 10 years old to go. Still not kidding.) there are rock crystals bigger than my head for under $200. Bigger. Bigger than Frankenstein's head. All I'm saying is, if you go to Bergdorf's and buy a measly 6" rock crystal squatty obelisk for $495? Well, the elder Mrs. Blandings might have had a name for a place like that.